May 21, 2009
Started the morning the same way most mornings here in Montalcino would start for me, and that was downstairs at the winebar/internet cafe. It is such a great convenience having it just outside the front door. Almost as convenient as having it inside the apartment, but with better coffe.
We were meeting up today with Ceylan Tumgoren, who runs the winery at Casanuova delle Cerbaie Winery in Montalcino. When we ran into her this morning, she wanted to sit with her mom for some coffee first, so we took the opportunity to walk over with my parents to a church that was currently being restored. My mom has taken great pride in this little town and all of its events and undertakings. You could see the pride in both of my parents faces as they discussed this church, its sinking, the art that was hanging, and the statue of peter that was here.
Rather than squeeze 6 in the car again, Lisa and I rode with Ceylan while the Volvo was behind. We learned a lot about Ceylan on this car ride. Her mother lives in New York and is divorced. Her father is from Turkey. To go along with her American citizenship she also held citizenship of Ireland. She worked for a wine distributor out of NY called Zachy’s. She then spent time working for a vineyard in Bordeaux France before moving to Montalcino where she has been for almost 2 years. She speaks fluent French, Italian and some Turkish. She told us how it was first a tough transition having an American work ethic while working with Italians because a coffee break would sometimes last 3 hours.
We arrived and we walked amongst the grape vines as she told us some of the history of the winery and some of the patterns of growth. She told us about Brunello-gate(tangent: I’m really tired of something controversial being called blank-gate. Watergate was the name of the office complex in the Nixon controversy. It had an actual reason of being called “gate.” However, now everything gets labeled “gate” and its flat out annoying. One recent example was when the Patriots were caught cheating, it was labeled “spygate.” For an inconclusive list of many others read here).
She also told us about pinching the grapes and how they do not want too many grapes growing on any particular vine because then all the energy of the vine is spread out through larger numbers, rather than focusing all its strength and flavors on a smaller number of grapes. We walked up and down some vines, pinching the vines.
We then went into the barrel rooms where we were gonna taste some of the wines that were in the middle of the aging process as well as some fresh wines.
In order for a wine to be classified as Brunello, it must be 100% sangiovese grape, grown in the region of Montalcino. It must age in the barrel or vat for a minimum of 5 years. If it is bottled after 2 years it is called a Rosa di Montalcino. If it is less than 2 years it is called “Tabalo” or table wine. I can’t imagine the patience that goes into a bottle of Brunello. Not only do you have to grow the vine for a certain number of years in order to yield fruit, but then once you do you have to wait 5 years for it to properly age.
We tasted some of the wines that had been in the barrel for 2 years, and others that had been longer. On one taste she immediately said “this one is ready to be moved out of the barrel” and she took note to make sure that got done immediately. To me it just tasted like wine, as I am not sure I would have noticed it was ready to move.
It was a great experience and I really enjoyed the first hand tour and imparted knowledge.
We made our way back to Montalcino and I spent some time posting to this site while at the internet wine bar. We then all went to St. Antimowhere we spent time at a 30 minute service of Gregorian chants. It was a really pretty church whose history dates back to the late 8th century. After the beautiful service, we walked around the grounds and made our way back to Montalcino.
Back in town, we walked around, ate some gelato, and then had dinner of wine and bruschetta, and then risotto with chicken. All very delicious as we watched the moon come up over this beautiful valley.
Our conversation started toward Bridge and how my parents play often with Kathie. We then spent 20 minutes trying to give me a bridge lesson and playing a hand.
Time for bed.